Friday, August 10, 2012

Post # 68: Update From the ANS Utility Working Conference

I just returned from the American Nuclear Society's Utility Working Conference in Hollywood, Florida.  This 3-day annual event is focused on the commercial nuclear power industry and the needs of the commercial nuclear power plant owner/operators.  My wife, Rebecca (who is a mechanical engineer) and I staffed the EnergX booth at the vendor's exhibition.

As you might imagine, several of this year's working sessions spotlighted, the evolving industry response to the accident at Fukushima Dai ichi.

Based on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's early implementation actions on the Near Term Task Force's twelve recommendations (and the "Tier-1" recommendations in particular), the industry is heavily engaged in implementation of the so-called "FLEX" initiative to pre-position emergency response equipment and resources, and in plant walkdowns and other actions related to identification of seismic and flood vulnerabilities.  Additionally, there is much anticipation related to the NRC's Notice of Intended Rulemaking regarding Station Blackout.

One of the central and repeated messages from the conference sessions I attended, was the short supply of experienced engineers and related technical specialists.  There's a shortage of experienced specialists skilled in conducting plant walkdowns, performing safety and risk assessment analyses, and performing plant modifications.  It is clear the industry will face significant challenges in meeting the human resource needs related to timely and adequate response to evolving Fukushima lessons-learned.

Gives the 50's to 60's age group (like me) who lived through TMI-2 and it's aftermath an opportunity to contribute the the industry we all feel is so vital to the long-term interests of humanity.